Advocates’ International Youth Activist Network (iYAN) consists of youth activists and adult allies from low and middle-income countries who are working to influence policies and programs in their countries and internationally to support improved youth reproductive and sexual health. Members of the iYAN connect to share information about their work; are provided information about scholarships and networking opportunities; get up-to-date information on downloadable advocacy materials and tool kits; and receive a monthly newsletter with information on advocacy, youth activism, and mobilization on important issues like sex education, access to contraception, and prevention of adolescent maternal mortality and HIV.
Sharing Our Passion
Have You Been Posting on Amplify Recently?
Amplify is a website that supports an online youth community dedicated to sexual health, reproductive justice, and youth-led grassroots movement building globally. Amplify, supported by Advocates for Youth, gives young people from all over the world, a place to come together for a cause—the reproductive and sexual health movement that young people must lead. Young people can blog, connect, and show the world who they are as a young person or youth activist working to ensure reproductive and sexual health and rights for all!
You can join too! Just sign up here: www.amplifyyourvoice.org.
Here are some blogs from young people from all over the world:
“The Silence has not yet been broken,” by Dereje in Ethiopia
The most important point in addressing the problem of HIV AIDS is to make the victims of the pandemic part of the solution; ignoring them and working alone with out the full participation and commitment of the victims will never bring permanent and reliable change that every body desire.
Read more: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/Dereje/2009/12/16/The-Silence-has-not-yet-been-Broken
“Yes, I can support someone living with HIV/AIDS,” by Rash in Jamaica
The Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network did a wonderful job at the Devon house to educate persons on the importance of always using a condom and to shed some light on some of the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Disease (STI).
Read more: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/rash/2009/12/8/Yes-i-can-support-someone-living-with-aids
“World AIDs Day ’09: Inaccessibility,” by Kiki in Nigeria
Considering the fact that this year’s World AIDS Day theme is Universal Access and Human Rights, I’m sorry to say it’s so ironic that the reverse is the case. The PLWHAs were not allowed to enter the hall unless they conformed, which they weren’t willing to do.
Young People, HIV, and Human Rights: All on Video!
The World AIDS Campaign, with support from UNFPA developed a youth video on Young People, HIV and Human Rights this year. The video was shot during the Youth Leaders Summit, which was organized by aids2031 in Norway at the end of June this year.
Interested in watching the video? Check it out here:
Be one of the first 10 iYAN members to submit an essay and WIN a notebook mailed to you from Advocates for Youth
YOUR voice is an essential part of what makes this newsletter a SUCCESS. Please submit your stories to share with other youth activists from around the world! If you are one of the first 10 iYAN members to submit an essay that follows the guidelines below, you will WIN a blue Advocates for Youth notebook and pen (to write more essays, of course! ) .
Here are the guidelines for writing an essay:
· Keep your essay to no more than 500 words.
· Use language that is simple and easy for non-native English speakers to read.
· Write about sexual and reproductive issues that you care about and/or what you are doing to make a difference. Share your experiences working on sexual and reproductive health issues and policies—tell your story. What’s going on with access to contraception and family planning services for youth, abortion, gender disparities, maternal mortality, traditional harmful practices, HIV/AIDS, stigma and homophobia, etc.? What are the challenges facing young people in your country? What are the challenges for you as an activist? Why did you get involved in this movement to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people? What is working to improve programs and policies and young people’s sexual and reproductive health?
Also, please note that:
· If you have a photo, would like us to include it with your essay, and can send it via email, please do! It’s okay if you do not have a photo, but we would like to bring a face to your words when we have the chance.
· Advocates for Youth edits all published materials, so we will send you the revised draft for your approval before it is featured in the newsletter. We want to make sure that you are happy with the final product as well!
· When you submit an essay, it may not appear right away in the next issue but we will be sure to include it in the next possible newsletter.
· Even if you submitted an essay, you can still send others for upcoming issues of the newsletter.
· You will receive an email by the next iYAN edition as to whether or not you are one of the first 10 people to submit an essay.
If you have questions on how to submit your essay, please contact Mimi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do it soon!! You could be one of the first 10!
What’s Going on at Advocates for Youth?
Let’s Work Together for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Rights
Are you an organization working for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) youth in your country and internationally?
Are you an activist that’s interested in the recognition of sexual diversity and advocacy for the right to all-inclusive comprehensive sex education?
Are you or your organization interested in working with Advocates for Youth on GLBT rights and advocacy?
Let us know!
GLBT youth face tremendous difficulties growing up in societies where heterosexuality is often presented as the only acceptable orientation, and homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender are regarded as deviant. Research suggests that homophobia and heterosexism greatly contribute to higher rates of suicide, violence victimization, risk behavior for HIV infection, and substance abuse among GLBT youth as compared to their heterosexual peers. In recent years, however, a number of promising programs have been established to help GLBT youth gain the skills and support that they need to live healthy lives.
Advocates for Youth is interested in working with you! We are interested in learning more about the challenges GLBT youth face in your country and what we can do, together, to address these challenges!
Contact Mimi Melles, Manager of the International Youth Speak Out project at email@example.com with questions and comments!
Advocates for Youth at the UN Climate Change Meeting in Copenhagen!
Advocates, as part of a coalition of youth-led and youth-serving organizations came together at the COP15 United Nations Meeting Climate Change Conference in December in Copenhagen to mobilize a youth constituency supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as a contribution to a comprehensive solution to climate change. Advocates supported many efforts led by youth at the Copenhagen meeting, including a Youth Lunch hosted by Population and Climate Change Alliance, where young people from all over the world shared ideas on messaging and mobilizing of youth to advocate for youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of climate change.
Some may ask: what’s the connection between SRHR and climate change? And what can young people, like us do about it?
Well, the coalition developed a youth declaration that explains these connections! Educating girls and boys, empowering women, meeting the demand for voluntary family planning, and ensuring access to comprehensive, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health and services not only play an important role in supporting rights—but also in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Just click here to read the declaration: www.amplifyyourvoice.org/issues/reproductiverights
Here is a blog by Mimi on SRHR at the meeting in Copenhagen,“Making the Connection through Gender Equity”:
For questions and comments, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Addressing the Education Sector’s Response to the Challenge of HIV Prevention among most at-risk young people in Berlin
On December 2nd, Advocates for Youth attended a symposium hosted by the UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Education, entitled: “How to get the message across – The education sector’s response to the challenge of HIV prevention among most-at-risk youth.” The meeting brought together young people with leaders from UN agencies, and civil society to discuss challenges and opportunities in reducing the vulnerability of young people to HIV and particularly most-at-risk populations within youth that included gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer youth, young men who have sex with men, young people who use drugs, and young female sex workers.
Children and young people who are most-at-risk, and therefore need to learn about HIV prevention, have either never been to school, dropped out early, or are no longer in school. Reaching these most-at-risk young people is a challenge for the education sector, which must explore all possible approaches to reach vulnerable adolescents and youth both in- and out-of-school.
The objectives of the Symposium were to:
1. Review existing evidence on the education sector’s approach to HIV prevention for most-at-risk young people in different epidemiological settings and identify the most efficient approaches.
2. Exchange experience on factors influencing successful program planning and implementation.
3. Promote education initiatives to enhance HIV prevention measures among young people in national and/or regional contexts.
4. Develop recommendations for outreach strategies that target young people in an inclusive, gender-sensitive, and gender-transformative manner.
For me, the most resonant presentation of the day-long symposium was made by a group of young people from Zambia, Kygstan, Kazakstan, and Rwanda, at a 15-minute session during which they presented their comments on presentations made by adults earlier that day, raising these points:
· Young people share the same “age group,” but we are diverse in our lifestyles, practices, gender identities, sexual orientations, academic and employment interests, learning opportunities, and social and cultural environments.
· Young people need to be meaningfully involved in all levels of discussions and decision-making processes relevant to policies and programs, particularly with reproductive and sexual health.
· Young people want more than HIV prevention–we want comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services that empower us to make well-informed decisions based on our own needs.
· Young people want POSITIVE messages about HIV prevention that start with a positive dialogue about sexuality as a normal and healthy part of our lives.”
Those attending the symposium responded to these points—one participant said it was “a wake-up call” and that it was time to be frank about the needs of young people’s reproductive and sexual health and rights. Being at this symposium and recognizing that I was one of the few young people there really showed me that we have so much more work to do to ensure that our voices are being heard.
To read more about the Symposium, you can check out Mimi’s blog here:
My Voice Counts!
Call for Nominations: 2010 Red Ribbon Award!
As in the past, the Red Ribbon Award honors and recognizes exceptional grassroots leadership in responding to the AIDS epidemic. Nominations are accepted from December 1st, 2009, until February 28th, 2010.
Twenty-five community-based organizations will be selected through a community-led process and invited to attend the XVIIIth International AIDS Conference in Vienna from July18-23, 2010, where they will have an opportunity to showcase their work. All 25 organizations will receive a prize of $5,000 each. Five of these will receive special recognition and an additional $15,000.This year the Red Ribbon Award will be given to community groups for outstanding leadership in responding to AIDS in one or more of the following categories:
· Ensure that that people living with HIV receive treatment
· Support HIV prevention, treatment and care programs for people who use drugs
· Remove punitive policies and laws, stigma and discrimination that block effective AIDS responses and marginalize key populations (men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and prisoners)
· Stop violence against women and girls and promote gender equality
· Enhance social support for those affected by HIV, including orphans and vulnerable children
This year, a special recognition Award will be presented to an organization whose cross-cutting approach jointly addresses AIDS and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the community level.
For more information, please go to: www.redribbonaward.org
Get Informed, Get Involved: Check out the FIRST edition of the youth AIDS 2010 newsletter!
The 18th International AIDS Conference is taking place from 18-23 July, 2010 in Vienna, Austria. The Youth Program Working Group and Vienna YouthForce have started preparations to ensure meaningful participation of young people at the conference.
One way to help young people get involved is to share information! Get involved – subscribe here to receive the newsletter each month:
With the newsletter, you can:
Share youth-specific information about the ongoing preparation process for AIDS2010 with young people and youth groups.
Get involved in the preparation of different Youth Program activities.
Here is the first edition of the youth AIDS 2010 newsletter! The newsletter has translations in English, Russian, German and Spanish below:
Scholarship Applications Open for International AIDS Conference
Young people should apply for scholarships to participate in the International AIDS Conference in Vienna! AIDS2010 will mandate that 20 percent of scholarships are secured for young people, especially young people living with HIV/AIDS, young people who are marginalized, including but not limited to young people who use drugs, young sex workers, young men who have sex with men, and younger generations of young people. Officially, AIDS2010 defines young people to be between the ages of 16 and 26. Please encourage young leaders in your community to apply!
Check detailed information here: http://www.aids2010.org/Default.aspx?pageId=181.
Register to be apart of the 2010 NGO Global Forum for Women: Beijing +15
The 2010 NGO Global Forum for Women for Beijing +15 will take place February 27-28, 2010, in New York City. This Forum immediately precedes the 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which will undertake a 15-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Platform for Action. For more information, visit the website >
To find out why this conference is so important, click here.
For more information visit: http://www.un.org/Conferences/Women
The Fourth World Conference on Women took place in Beijing in 1995 and focused on increasing opportunities for women and on advancing goals of equality, development, and peace for women. One hundred eighty-nine governments participated, as did representatives from thousands of NGOs. Member states put forth a Platform of Action that outlined strategic objectives to advance the roles of women.
The 12th objective specifically addressed the “girl child.” In advocating for youth’s reproductive and sexual health and rights, the following may be of value:
Platform of Action: Governments must “Include in their activities women with diverse needs and recognize that youth organizations are increasingly becoming effective partners in development programmes.”
Platform of Action: Governments must “Ensure equal access to and equal treatment of women and men in education and health care and enhance women’s sexual and reproductive health as well as education.”
Action 281 (c): “Strengthen and reorient health education and health services … including sexual and reproductive health, and design quality health programs that meet the physical and mental needs of girls and that attend to the needs of young, expectant and nursing mothers.”
Action 281 (d): “Establish peer education and outreach programs with a view to strengthening individual and collective action to reduce the vulnerability of girls to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases…”
For the Beijing Platform of Action, click here:
Read All About It
Hilary Clinton Speaks on the Commitment to Global Reproductive Health and Family Planning
On Friday, January 8, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech on renewed U.S. leadership and commitment to global reproductive health and family planning. The speech commemorated the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) as an important marker to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially Goal 5 on improving maternal mortality, which includes a target for universal access to reproductive health and family planning.
Advocates for Youth believes this speech is an important step in our collective efforts to strengthen global leadership and, of course, an exciting way to start 2010!
Read blogs by Advocates for Youth President James Wagoner and International Division Director Nicole Cheetham
A transcript and video of the speech can be found at www.icpd2015.org.
Removal of Entry Restrictions on People Living with HIV by the U.S. Allows for Return of Conference after 22-Year Absence
The International AIDS Society recently announced at the White House that the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) will be held in Washington, DC, in July 2012. The IAS Governing Council decided to hold AIDS 2012 in Washington, DC, following U.S. President Barack Obama’s October announcement that the nation would end its entry restrictions on people living with HIV effective January 4, 2010. The conference was last held in the United States in 1990 in San Francisco, California.
“The return of the conference to the United States is the result of years of dedicated advocacy to end a misguided policy based on fear, rather than science, and represents a significant victory for public health and human rights,” said IAS President-Elect Dr. Elly Katabira, Professor of Medicine at Makerere University in Uganda, who will serve as the International Chair of AIDS 2012.
For more information, go to: http://www.hivtravel.org/Default.aspx?pageId=149&elementId=10348
Uganda’s Proposed Law is an Outrageous Violation of Human Rights
“Right now, you can’t go to places that are crowded, because the mob can attack us or even burn us. We can’t walk alone. We are ostracized by relatives. But if this bill passes, it will become impossible for me to live here at all. And that part hurts the most.”
Frank Mugisha, a gay man in Uganda
Uganda recently introduced an Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which includes several provisions that human rights groups say would spur a witch hunt of homosexuals in the country. For example, the bill states that HIV positive gays and lesbians convicted of having gay sex will be sentenced to a minimum of life in prison. Some would even be published with death.
“Who will go to HIV testing if he knows that he will suffer the death sentence?” Elizabeth Mataka, the U.N. Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa, told reporters last week. “The law will drive them away from seeking counseling and testing services,” she said.
To read more, read this CCN article, Why is Uganda attacking homosexuality?
To read blogs on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill posted on amplify by two of Advocates’ youth activists, please go to:
What is going on?!!!!!!!! Criminalization of Homosexuality?!!!!!!!!!
Tools You Can Use
Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights!
By Youth Coalition and CHOICE for youth and sexuality
This new publication is a resource for young people who are interested in developing sustainable organizational structures. The document provides a flexible blueprint for creating youth-led organizations and includes topics such as strategic planning, governance structures, fundraising, communications, how to make an impact with organizational activities, decision-making models, best practices and lessons learned.
This resource has been developed with youth SRHR organizations in mind, but is a useful tool for anyone interested in developing sustainable organizations, including individuals, youth groups, and networks.
The guide is available for download on Youth Coalition’s website.
First Briefing Paper on young people living with HIV–“Young Positives: Living their Rights!”
By the Global Networks of People Living with HIV (GNP+), Young Positives, Hope’s Voice International, Positive Youth Outreach, and the World AIDS Campaign (WAC).
“Young Positives: Living their Rights!” outlines several key issues, considerations, challenges and recommendations for policy-makers, NGOs, young people, people living with HIV, and other actors in the response to HIV. The briefing paper seeks to help us all build a supportive and enabling environment in which young people living with HIV can realize their rights.
Here is the link to the English version of the brief, which is also available on WAC website at:
Translated versions in Mandarin, Spanish, French, Russian, Hindi, Arabic and Portuguese are on the way too!
February 20: World Day of Social Justice
Beginning in 2009, the United Nations’ (UN) World Day of Social Justice is observed annually on February 20 to encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication, among other development issues like employment and support for social integration.
To achieve “a society for all” governments have made commitments in the past at the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly, “World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world.” These commitments include creating of a framework for action to promote social justice at national, regional and international levels. Governments have also pledged to promote the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity, equality, and opportunity for all. Finally, governments have recognized that economic growth should promote equity and social justice and that “a society for all” must be based on social justice and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
How Can This Day Help Us Mobilize for Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?
You can inform young people of their RIGHT to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. Host an event, blog on Amplify, lobby policymakers, and write letters to your local and national media.
Emphasize that a “society for all” includes young people and that young people needed to be involved as partners in the development of social justice frameworks at all levels of decision-making.
Use Advocates’ youth activist guide on “Affirming the Rights of Young People at UN World Summits and Meetings” as a tool that shows governments signed agreements to support young people’s health and rights (click here: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=462&Itemid=177)
Check out the official website here:
Advocates for Youth has a form to sign-up for the iYAN on our website. Send this link to your friends so they can sign-up too!